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July 30, 2015

A closer look at the Phillies' new prospects

Blockbuster baseball trades are generally pretty fascinating, and the deal that sent Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers certainly isn’t lacking in intrigue. Often, there is a buyer (in this case, Texas) looking for a proven major league commodity (Hamels) to put itself over the top in some way, shape, or form.

On the other end, a seller (your Philadelphia Phillies!) is in search of minor league talent that can bolster its farm system and help the big league club out somewhere down the line.

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but the obvious is precisely what makes these trades so interesting: We don’t know how the five prospects coming over from Texas’ system are going to pan out. Sure, there are rankings (and trust me, I love the rankings), but there is also so much disparity depending on whom or what you’re reading.

For example, outfielder Nick Williams is ranked 21st by Baseball Prospectus and also doesn’t even crack Keith Law’s Top-100. WHO DO WE TRUST? Nobody around here will forget the magical time when Domonic Brown was viewed as the top prospect in all of baseball and also considered untouchable.

That is why it is damn near impossible to offer anything more than general instant analysis of a baseball trade involving so many prospects. After all, watching them rise to the challenge or flame out in the minors is a full-time job for a bunch of people. What we can comfortably do is introduce the players who will continue their professional careers under the Phillies’ watchful eye.

With all due respect to Matt Harrison, let’s get to the other guys:

Jake Thompson — 6’4”, 235 lb. RHP

Draft: Round 2 (2012, DET)
MLB Pipeline Rangers/Overall Ranking: 4th/60th
Throws/Bats: R/R
2015 Stats: 6-6, 4.72 ERA, 8.01 K/9, 3.08 BB/9 in 87.2 innings pitched at Frisco (AA)

That is The Well Traveled Jake Thompson to you. Originally drafted by the Detroit Tigers, he went to the Rangers in the trade that sent Joakim Soria to Detroit last year. Now, his bags are packed again. As you can see from his numbers, Thompson has struggled a bit in Double-A this season, but scouts like the combination of his fastball and a nasty slider (which I believe earns him a strikeout in the video above). 

Nick Williams — 6’3”, 195 lb. OF

Draft: Round 2 (2012, TEX)
MLB Pipeline Rangers/Overall Ranking: 5th/64th
Bats/Throws: L/L
2015 Stats: .299/.357/.479 in 378 at-bats at Frisco (AA)

Seems like a pretty sweet lefty swing, huh? Williams already has 13 homers on the season, so there is definitely some power here. Most scouting types rave about his bat speed, but the major concern has been his approach at the plate. If you head on over to FanGraphs, Williams’ strikeout and walk rates have both been terrible throughout his short professional career. However, they’ve each improved to around average this year, a huge development if he can keep it up. According to MLB Pipeline, Williams has played most of his pro career in left field.

Jorge Alfaro — 6’2”, 225 lb. C

Signed: 2010 (TEX)
MLB Pipeline Rangers/Overall Ranking: 6th/69th (nice)
Bats/Throws: R/R
2015 Stats: .253/.314/.432 in 190 at-bats at Frisco (AA)

The Phillies took a page out of Sam Hinkie’s playbook and picked up an injured big man, as Alfaro suffered an ankle injury that should keep him out for the rest of the year. He apparently possesses an incredible throwing arm from behind the plate, but the other areas of his defensive game need some work. Alfaro also supposedly has great natural power, but his plate discipline is still where Williams’ was at last year (i.e. not good). From what you read on him, it seems like the 22-year-old is a risky prospect with a few excellent tools.

Jerad Eickhoff — 6’4”, 240 lb. RHP

Draft: Round 15 (2011, TEX)
MLB Pipeline Rangers/Overall Ranking: 17th/Not Ranked 
Throws/Bats: R/R
2015 Stats: 10-4, 4.11 ERA, 8.38 K/9, 3.07 BB/9 in 111.2 innings pitched at Frisco (AA) and Round Rock (AAA)

The big right-hander has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and he might be able to crack the back end of an MLB rotation if he continues to develop.

Alec Asher — 6’4”, 230 lb. RHP

Draft: Round 4 (2012, TEX)
MLB Pipeline Rangers/Overall Ranking: 29th/Not Ranked
Throws/Bats: R/R
2015 Stats: 4-10, 4.43 ERA, 7.52 K/9, 2.64 BB/9 in 107.2 innings pitched at Frisco (AA) and Round Rock (AAA)

Pretty much the same size as Eickhoff, Asher might be better suited as a reliever according to Keith Law (Insider only). He provides the system with more pitching depth.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann